Sandy beach in La Jolla
Photo: kanonsky/Fotolia

La Jolla is a beautiful coastal town in Southern California and a perfect weekend escape filled with romantic sunsets, surfing, shopping and restaurants.

Take a guided kayaking tour through the La Jolla Underwater Park to observe marine animals, go snorkeling or scuba diving, and enjoy romantic sunset walks in Ellen Browning Scripps Park which features scenic walkways and spectacular beaches, including the famous La Jolla Cove. Here is the list of the best things to do in La Jolla, California.

»La Jolla Underwater Park

La Jolla Underwater Park


The spectacular La Jolla Underwater Park promises a wonderful adventure and is one of the top La Jolla attractions. Home to a natural marine life preservation and aquatic recreation zone, it sprawls over 6,000 acres of shoreline and shallow tidelands between Ellen Browning Scripps Park and La Jolla Shores. This incredible ecological reserve hosts two artificial reefs, two underwater canyons, and a vast kelp forest, creating a pristine and protected marine habitat in which a variety of oceanic flora and fauna live. Two sunken artificial reefs attract marine life close to shore and make conditions perfect for swimming and snorkeling in the crisp waters, teeming with beautiful sea creatures. Visitors can take part in a wonderful scuba diving adventure beyond the reefs in the 600-foot deep La Jolla Canyon where migrating whales are often spotted. The La Jolla Underwater Park is a protected zone and fishing is prohibited. However, other water-based activities such as kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving are popular pastimes in the reserve.

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»Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography


Perched high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is a public aquarium and exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of San Diego. Aiming to educate the public on the importance of ocean science and conservation, the Aquarium houses over 60 habitats of sea animals, fish, and invertebrates from across the globe. Major exhibits at the aquarium include the ‘Hall of Fishes’, featuring a myriad of fish species; ‘ElasmoBeach’, a 13,000-gallon tank showcasing the home of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) and other marine life that live close to shore; and ‘Tidal-Pool Plaza’, boasting three living tide pools filled with marine life. Birch Aquarium promotes education and conservation of the marine environment through an incredible array of creative exhibits, programs, and activities for all ages throughout the year. If you are looking for best things to do in La Jolla, this is a great place to visit.

2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, California 92037, Phone: 858-534-3474

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»La Jolla Kayak

La Jolla Kayak

Based in La Jolla and operating since 1996, La Jolla Kayak provides guided tours in and around the spectacular coastline and shores of La Jolla, including the world-renowned marine reserve of La Jolla Underwater Park. La Jolla Kayak offers a range of tours. Snorkel in the clear waters of the La Jolla Underwater Park, explore the Seven Caves on a kayaking trip or soak up the stunning sea views as you bicycle along the along the historic San Diego coastline. Guided tours are led by certified and experienced instructors where guest safety is the top priority. If you prefer to explore on your own, paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel gear and boogie boards can be rented to enjoy in your own time. Photo: La Jolla Kayak

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»La Jolla Water Sports Snorkeling Tour

La Jolla Water Sports Snorkeling Tour


Swim and snorkel with some of San Diego’s spectacular sea life, from sea lions and starfish to manta rays and moray eels on a snorkeling tour with a La Jolla Water Sports. One of San Diego’s premier watersports shops, they offer a range of water-based activities, with snorkeling tours led by certified instructors through some of the best spots on the coast. Snorkel in the pristine waters of the La Jolla Underwater Park surrounded by myriad of marine life in the protected waters, enjoy a sea scooter snorkel trip in the kelp forests, or head into deeper waters to snorkel with sharks. All equipment is provided for the snorkel tours, and tour groups are kept small for added safety. If you want to spend some time exploring on your own, La Jolla Water Sports has a full range of snorkel and diving equipment that can rented. Photo: ead72/Fotolia

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»The Cottage

The Cottage

Located on a sunny corner in downtown La Jolla, The Cottage La Jolla is a friendly, laid-back neighborhood eatery with a reputation for delicious food, excellent service, and a warm ambiance. The turn-of-the-century cottage boasts a lovely brick patio flooded with natural light where diners can indulge in a breakfast of farm-fresh eggs, oatmeal pancakes, healthy granola, yogurt, or syrupy Belgian waffles. Dinner is just as delightful, with a bistro-style menu featuring classic Southern California dishes with all-American flavors. Don’t go away without trying some of the mouthwatering pastries, desserts and bread freshly baked on site in the Cottage Bakery.

7702 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, California 92037, Phone: 858-454-8409

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»Harry's Coffee Shop

Harry's Coffee Shop


A La Jolla icon since 1960, Harry's Coffee Shop is a family-owned restaurant now run by the second generation, and probably serving the second generation of faithful customers accustomed to having their morning cup of java in a comfortable, familiar environment of this classic American diner. This diner has it all: Shiny vinyl booths, long counters and walls covered with sports memorabilia and Norman Rockwell prints.

Their most famous dish is a buttermilk waffle stuffed with bacon, a thick slab of ham and a poached egg, slathered with their signature, homemade hollandaise sauce. This meal will easily keep you going way past lunch. Breakfast is served all day, with a coffee or fresh squeezed juice, or try a smoothie or an old-fashioned float to mix things up. The menu is enormous, you can spend hours drooling over it before deciding what to get, so just plan to come back.

7545 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858-454-7381 Photo: Harry's Coffee Shop

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»The Promiscuous Fork

The Promiscuous Fork


The Promiscuous Fork is a super cool, friendly, fun-filled foodie joint and to top it off, one of San Diego’s favorite hangouts. Following in the footsteps of their wildly popular catering business, The Promiscuous Fork is now plating their perfected-over-time dishes in quaint digs in La Jolla. Boasting a high-top community table and a partitioned inside/outside bar, the eatery has a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that attracts everyone from families to fashionistas. Their wonderfully simple menu promises original bites, ranging from Surf & Turf Grilled Cheese with homemade crab Louie to salmon tacos smothered in cheddar and bacon-wrapped BBQ shrimp with a side of Baconnaise. Wash it all down with a selection of craft beers from local award-winning breweries. If you are looking for fun date ideas in La Jolla, this is a great place to try. Read more

6984 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, California 92037, Phone: 858-454-3663 Photo: The Promiscuous Fork

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»Lajollacooks4u

Lajollacooks4u


Lajollacooks4u offers a variety of culinary experiences for every occasion, with packages ranging from farm-to-table and gourmet cooking classes to foodie tours and in-home cooking lessons. Founded in 2007 by certified foodie and culinary master chef Jodi Abel, gourmet classes are held in her home in La Jolla where she imparts her expert culinary knowledge with private groups in fun and delicious ways. Using only locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients, individuals and groups will not want to miss this unique culinary experience. Gourmet food, dining experiences and cooking demonstrations are available, as well as exciting foodie tours through San Diego and culinary weekends away with like-minded gourmands and foodie friends (website). Photo: Lajollacooks4u

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»Ellen Browning Scripps Park

Ellen Browning Scripps Park


Ellen Browning Scripps Park is one of San Diego’s favorite attractions for getting out and about, with vast spaces for picnics and scenic walkways along the coast for strolling, jogging and enjoying the view. One of the most popular spots in San Diego, the park provides easy access to some of the city’s best beaches, including La Jolla Cove and Children’s Pool. Undoubtedly one of San Diego’s most beautiful beaches, La Jolla Cove forms part of the La Jolla Underwater Park, whose white sandy shores and pristine, protected waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking. From star fish to sea lions, the ocean floor at La Jolla Cove abounds in many types of marine life. While on land, verdant grassy parks provide the perfect place for picnics and relaxing with family and friends. Photo: samantoniophoto/Fotolia

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10 Best Things to Do in La Jolla, Southern California